Ireland – Covid-19 – Immigration update

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Update: May 18th, 2020

Further automatic extension for residence permissions

What is the change?

The Irish government has announced that foreign nationals with valid immigration permission that expires between May 20 and July 20 will be granted a further automatic two-month extension. This follows the previous two-month extension that came into effect on March 20, meaning that some permissions may be extended for a total of four months.

This measure is in response to the temporary closure of the Irish immigration registration offices where foreign nationals are required to register their immigration permission once in Ireland.

Key points:

  • Implementation time frame: This change is set to take effect of the May 20.
  • Who is affected: All foreign nationals residing in Ireland with valid immigration permission (based on employment, studies, dependent family, tourism, etc.) that is due to expire between May 20 and July 20.
  • Additionally, any permission which was renewed by the March 20 notice and therefore has a new expiry date between May 20 and July 20 is automatically renewed by this notice for a further two months.
  • Next steps: It is important that employers review their upcoming expirations and update the expiry date by a further two months.

All non-EEA nationals must apply for an employment permit to work. Certain nationalities must then apply for an entry visa to enter Ireland to commence work. Once in Ireland, all non-EEA nationals must apply for an Irish residence permit to register their permission. Non-EEA nationals must renew this Irish residence permission when appropriate.

The first automatic extension of expiring Irish residence permits came into effect March 20 and confirmed that foreign nationals with valid immigration permission due to expire between March 20 and May 20 would be granted an automatic two-month extension.

The second automatic extension of immigration permission for a further two months is a welcome announcement as it provides certainty to employers and employees whose permission was due to expire. This ensures that employees retain their permission under the same conditions during this time.

While the registration offices have been closed, Immigration Service Delivery (ISD) has implemented several COVID-19 responses to mitigate the impact of the closures. They have permitted non-EEA nationals who are eligible to change their permission to apply electronically via email, rather than at an in-person appointment. They have further permitted non-EEA students who are eligible to apply to the Third Level Graduate Programme to apply electronically.

Update: March 31th, 2020

Irish Government implements contingency arrangements to process employment permits during the Covid-19 pandemic

What is the change?

Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI), who issue employment permits in Ireland, have published their contingency plan to keep the Employment permits system operational during the COVID-19 pandemic. The plan allows for the online submission of a number of immigration processes and has indicated they will be flexible during this pandemic.

The changes are set to take effect 30 March 2020. There is currently no end date.

Who is affected?

All employers who have non-EEA employees in their workforce or are seeking to hire non-EEA employees during COVID-19

Key Points

  • Employment permits will be issued electronically. Authorities will issue PDF versions of Employment permits to the employer, employee and immigration agent. The employment permit will be accompanied by a letter from DBEI. Both the permit and the letter should be kept for verification purposes. Once operations return to normal, the original and certified copies of the employment permit will be distributed to the employer and employee.
  • Applications for Stamp 4 letters of Support (renewals of CSEPs) may now be submitted electronically. The form should be submitted to Decisions, including grant letters, will be communicated via email. Applications that have recently been submitted by post can be resubmitted online. Applications can be submitted after 20 months of continuous employment on a Critical Skills Employment permit, but will not be processed until after 21 months.
  • Appeals may now be submitted electronically. The form should be submitted to Decisions will be communicated via email.
  • Employees retain permission to continue to work whilst renewal is processing. Applications to renew an employment permit cam be submitted between 1-4 months before the expiry of the current permit. Employment permit holders will be allowed to remain in Ireland and continue working while their renewal is processed. Once a new Employment permit is issued, permit holders can apply to the Department of Justice and Equality to update their immigration permission.
  • Trusted Partner (renewal and new) applications, Statement of Loss and Transfer of Undertakings can be submitted electronically.
  • Rules requiring the surrender of Employment permits have been suspended. Neither companies nor individuals will be required to return employment permits within the standard four-week period after the cessation of employment. DBEI expects that originals and certified copies will be returned only after normal operations resume.
  • Accommodations may be made for applicants with pending applications. DBEI has said it can hold applications in the processing queue, change start dates or cancel applications with a full refund if the withdrawal is related COVID-19.
  • Applicants from visa-required countries will be contacted about their applications. Ireland has stopped processing of entry visas because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Emergency entry visa applications may be accepted for a limited number of applicants, including for health care professionals or immediate family members of Irish nationals. The suspension of visa issuance, however, will make it impossible for some Employment permit applicants from visa-required countries to enter Ireland at this time. In these cases, both the employer and employee will be contacted. DBEI can hold applications in the queue, amend start dates or return applications with a full refund.
  • The Employment permit Section should be contacted by email rather than post.
  • Employment permit holders working from home: An employer should send a blanket notification to DBEI.
  • Impact on the employment permit in the event of a temporary layoff, reduced working hours or redundancy as a result of covid-19: DBEI should be informed in advance of the temporary layoff/ reduced working hours so that it can be noted on the permit file.  At renewal stage, the salary and working hours as per the conditions of the permit granted may not have been achieved, however, DBEI have noted that where it is related to COVID-19, they will take this into account when considering applications for renewal. The COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment scheme is available to any employees or self-employed workers, including non-EEA nationals, who lost their job on or after March 13 because of the pandemic. The Temporary COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme, meanwhile, is available to employers to help them keep employees, including Employment permit holders, on payroll throughout the pandemic. Our Deloitte tax team have produced this article to give further information.
  • Impact if an employment permit holder has been made redundant: DBEI should be informed of the redundancy within four weeks of the date, via the relevant Redundancy Form. The employment permit holder may seek employment in any eligible occupation and apply for a permit within six months of the date and the Labour Market Needs Test is waived within the six months. The Employer is unable to secure an employment permit for that particular occupation for a period of 6 months.

The contingency plan addresses many of the policy points raised by Deloitte to the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation. It will ease immigration procedures for employers and employees impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Department have indicated that they will be flexible on a case by case basis for employers affected by covid-19. Employers are urged to review the plan and reach out to Deloitte for issues or queries that arise as part of their covid-19 planning to ensure that they address any immigration implications. Processing delays should be expected as Employment permits for medical personnel will be prioritised.

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